lf2

When the sociopath stonewalls you

Stonewalling is when someone shuts you down from communicating. He just “bails” on your efforts at communication, refuses to take you seriously; refuses to engage a discussion of your concerns.

He may ignore or dismiss you, express fatigue with you (and your concerns); he may listen without offering a thoughtful, respectful response, and then credit himself for having listened, perhaps even listened at a length he may complain about.

In any case his unthoughtful, lazy, dismissive, or flat-out non-response to your feelings and concerns captures the essence of stonewalling and will reflect his pure contempt for which he’ll take no responsibility.

Rather, he may depict you as a boring windbag who doesn’t know when to “stop talking,” or who’s always making or looking for “trouble,” without recognizing or owning how his insistent refusal to listen, his determination NOT to listen, actually provokes, passive-aggressively, your very instinct to “talk” and “pursue him” until he gives a meaningful response.

He may flat-out tell you he’s bored by, and uninterested in, the concerns you raise, regardless of how strongly you feel about them, and regardless of how strong your need to discuss them is. It may be that the more urgency you feel to broach your concerns, the more he’ll contemptuously stonewall you.

When your concerns pertain to the relationship itself, his rebuff will feel especially cruel and leave you feeling especially helpless. It will also very likely be dripping with some form of passive-aggressive, if not aggressive, contempt.

Now this is stonewalling, and stonewalling is a nasty, hurtful thing to do to someone; it leaves the stonewalled party feeling as negated as a person can feel.

You don’t have to be a sociopath to stonewall. Plenty of non-sociopaths stonewall. But many sociopaths are stonewallers, and the act of stonewalling itself, especially when it’s intentional, often contains the cold, callous attitude of the sociopath.

The stonewaller’s absence of empathy for the stonewalled party, perhaps even the relish the stonewaller takes in messing with the stonewalled party’s head, in watching her twist and squirm and perhaps make humiliating efforts and bids to be heard—there can be something actually sadistic about this.

Stonewalling will tend to elicit some common feelings in the stonewalled party—among them shame, anger, rage, infuriation, humiliation, desperation (to be heard), helplessness, and a sense of being driven crazy.

Stonewalling, then, is a form of “gaslighting” insofar as it can leave the stonewalled party feeling as if she’s speaking a foreign language inaccessible to the stonewaller even though she knows perfectly well the stonewaller speaks the language, literally, but either refuses to speak it or “acts” like he doesn’t.

This can have a “crazy-making” effect, as if he’s accusing her (as he may very well do) of speaking incomprehensibly.

Stonewallers, whether sociopaths or not, are seriously disturbed communicators. Their indifference to the stonewalled party’s experience, as noted, can be chilling. Their stonewalling often reflects character pathology, in which case they won’t change—they will always be stonewallers.

Stonewallers are destructive partners whom it’s best to avoid, and even leave, for your sanity’s and dignity’s sake. I make this strong suggestion in cases where the stonewaller refuses to assume total and genuine responsibility for his stonewalling, which is not always, but too often is, the case.

You need to stop banging your head against the “wall” (the pun is apt) trying to reach the stonewaller, because he is not reachable. Futility is what you are left feeling again and again, until you feel depressed and hopeless. The futility is not in your head. It is real, and will always be the experience with the stonewaller, who disowns responsibility for the suffering his stonewalling causes you.

Identify the stonewalling partners in your life; if they can’t, or won’t, take charge of their stonewalling, get them out of your life as best, completely and fast as you can.

(This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of the male gender pronoun was strictly for convenience’s sake and not to imply that females aren’t equally capable of the behaviors and attitudes discussed.)


Comment on this article

69 Comments on "When the sociopath stonewalls you"

Notify of

Bless you, Steve, for devoting an article to this! This is exactly what my marriage to my spath ex-husband was like. But I never had a name for it, and never knew how to describe it to anyone. You nailed it.

I can still see him standing there as I was attempting to connect with him or speak about something important to me, making the “quacking duck” motions with his hand indicating that I was not worth listening to, just flapping my gums, he wasn’t going to listen, he would roll his eyes and curl his lip in derision at my attempts to communicate. My HUSBAND. Yes.

You are right, this is one of the worst things a person (especially an intimate partner) can do to someone. The worst sort of abuse, and doesn’t leave any physical marks.

I know stonewalling well…sigh.

Steve, what a great article! You know, I always thought that it WAS me being a windbag or a “nag,” as he always called me when I would suggest that he apply sunscreen to his very light skin. YES….”stonewalling” is ugly, deliberate, and causes extreme damage.

The more that I read and learn, the more vile spaths are to me. Vile in the sense that even a venomous snake has a purpose in Nature. What is the purpose of spaths? Ruination, bottom line.

Well, I’m going to win this fight, even if I end up living under an overpass, I will NEVER be victimized by that rat-bastard, AGAIN! 😀

Yep, just another way they try to make us feel ashamed, like we aren’t important enough to listen to.

Ironically, all it shows is that they are seriously damaged deep inside. Only a very damaged person needs to project so much vileness. They think they are placing themselves above us when in fact, they are showing themselves to be soooo far, far below.

Steve, “stonewalling is painful” to the person being stonewalled….and you know when we go NO CONTACT with them we are actually “stonewalling” them…..and they hate it. Absolutely drives them crazy.

Call it what you will, “stonewalling” maybe when you are still in a relationship with someone who is dismissive of you, devaluing you, “stonewalling” may be the correct term, but when you get out of the relationship NO CONTACT is the ultimate INSULT TO THEM, just as “stonewalling” in a relationship is the ultimate insult to the person in the relationship.

Great article! Glad to see you posting again, have missed your articles.

So that’s what they call it. Am I understanding this correctly….when I brought up an important issue and he made didn’t want to talk about it, made an excuse that he couln’t talk, or didn’t contact me for days after addressing it……these are examples of stonewalling?

So immature and frustrating.

It made me nutso.

The effect was overwhelming after 15 years.

Compared to the Stonewalling I went through with the N, dating the P was a manic delight!

So charming, willing to talk about everything. So kind. Well, it looked so much that way it took a ling time to understand the REST of the story. I got lucky. And luckier still to have the support here and from dear friends and family. Damned lucky.

Even if I didn’t like hearing and facing the truth from them. Even if a lot of old wounds resurfaced and needed time to heal. Even if at times I was so very alone and bouncing off the walls in my own head. Even if sometimes I still have to MAKE myself function in the real world instead of withdrawing into my house or my garden.

Sometimes it is still hard to go out in the world and be with people. Often, its hard work.

We’re most vulnerable coming out of one of these things. So much emotion is released. And the releases sometimes feel so good, how could we have any judgement?

Well, common sense is common sense.
Don’t leave home without it………………

Yeah -Yahoo – Welcome Back, Steve !

Stonewalling – I used to think he was avoidant – just didn’t like to deal with difficult situations. Heck, he NEVER found it difficult to talk – but he never learned to listen.

Now, after reading this article – it is much deeper than just avoiding issues. There was contempt, disregard, yes even seemingly sadistic enjoyment when dismissing me.

NC is difficult with 2 kids – but I do keep it to a minimum because the STONEWALLING is worse than ever.

There is no discussing lack of child support, financial contribution to medical,dental, activities, college , etc.

He even laughs while hanging up the phone now.

You are so right , Steve – we are left feeling powerless, dismissed and not worthy of an exchange.

So glad you are back, Steve.

I’m so glad you’ve written this article, Steve – I’ve always especially enjoyed your views and had even looked up some of your older ones lately to read.

This topic is so timely for me – I admit I have not been successful in getting away permanently from the toxic man in my life, the reason I have stayed with reading here for years now. I recently mailed all of his things to him after another go-round of his saying he was going to send me some money from his IRS check, repeatedly calling me day to day to say he’d have the tracking number for me soon and then nothing.
I know the deal now better than I should so I gave myself a deadline for listening (and I have needed the money, even the payback of a loan of $25 to him that I could not afford – him also saying then that he could pay it back within the week (now about a month ago). So the day came and I packed all his things into a box and mailed it to the only address I’ve ever had for him in another city. He did not call for several days after I got very angry on phone one day after being ‘stonewalled’ for last time about the money – I have told him repeatedly it’s not even about the money, it’s about TRUST and being able to count on his word to me, especially when he knows he did offer and did say those things. But the stonewalling follows each time – he has some excuse about not being able to get to bank (has had no car, depends on others to get him around but manages to get to other places for job interviews, etc. or even to do taxes!) I am repeatedly listened to or diverted to some other reasoning or put down for always ‘bringing up the past’ though it may only be yesterday – and a yesterday that impacted me.

So he called last night at midnight, I had been putting in late nights with a project and had wanted to go to bed early so by 11:30 I cut my phone off and he left me message ‘so now I see you’ve cut your phone off…”

I’m no longer so much angry as no longer in denial about his not dealing with me in ways that I can tolerate anymore. Even my body has rebelled – the last time he was up to see me I broke out at the side of my mouth with a kind of sore that I still can’t explain, usually my daughter and I both get fever blisters on our lips when we’ve gone through some stress. Posters like Oxy and Erin and others may remember me and I feel some shame at still being at this stage but I know what I have lived and the challenges I have had as have so many others here – sometimes we all need to pace ourselves and get through other issues in our daily emotional lives before we can summon the strength to make a change and to believe we deserve it and that we can let go of this toxic crutch that is actually beating us over the head!

I also finally got a well-woman health checkup…my female doctor had died this past year and I never felt solvent enough to start again with someone new or investigate my options. I’m glad I did and the doctor turns out to be the same woman who saved my life with an emergency hysterectomy 10 years ago – right after I had met this man and had gone through a difficult divorce 3 years before.

So thank you Steve, Donna, Oxy, Erin and everyone here, you don’t know how much you have helped those of us who just read and stay silent but internalize all the wisdom and sharing here. Sometimes I still question if I’ve judged him unfairly and have just decided he’s a ‘bad man’ and then have made that play out…but I can’t deny that the things he does all fit the category of ‘crazy-making’ and I am so done with that or allowing myself to be that person anymore.

newlife08, absolutely correct.

I go through this with my spath ex-husband, father of our kids now, too.

No discussing financial split of the “non-necessities” but very nice to have: driver’s ed, college, summer workshops, eyeglasses, dental fillings, school lab fees, sports equipment for their team sports, fees for AP exams, etc.

I mean, *I* am not allowed to raise these topics with him. Only the children may. But they won’t, because they are so sick of dealing with him.

So… I know my kids deserve better, but I don’t have the money to pay for the whole thing myself. (he does) it really sucks.

It is very (ugh) to have to say to the kids, “if you want this thing, you will have to go to your dad, because he will not discuss it with me — only with you.”

It’s not all about money. There are other things, too. but the main thing is, I am a NON-EXISTING PERSON to him when it comes to parenting the children, the children know this and are offended and uncomprehending about it. The thing is, they don’t exist to him, either, except as extensions of himself or objects to control or to bring him glory through their personal achievements.

This is the other side of “no contact.” It is impossible to be no contact with someone the courts expect you to “co-parent” with. Cause of course I would, otherwise. So I’m blamed for not being an effective co-parent. It’s an IMPOSSIBLE EXPECTATION.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

this phrase is great: ‘seriously disturbed communicators’. lots of applicable situations at my former job. Especially the new E.D. SOOO glad to be out of there!

one/joy_step_at_a_time

persephone7, i wish you all the strength and wisdom you need to remove yourself from him, irrevocably and forever.

one/joy: Thanks for your wish, it means alot to me. I read what you said to Hens about safety becoming a prison and that “it becomes more painful to stay the same than change.” I think sometimes that’s what it takes to see we’ve let ourselves get pushed into a boring little corner.

I still have financial challenges ahead and decisions to make about my home, also if it would be good to move even temporarily to get back on track. But at least I have options and I’m grateful for that. My heart goes out to NewLife and 20years as they’re in situations where they have to have contact with spath father because of their kids. So I really admire them for their strength in trying to keep their integrity and attitudes intact for themselves and their children.

I’m making an effort right now to get more rest and just be quiet. But I also want to gradually add getting out more. I don’t want to date, I just want to meet some new people and reconnect with old friends I’ve not gotten together with because I’ve been too busy or too depressed when I’m not getting enough contentment or joy back in this relationship.

I googled stone walling and here is what I got, very interesting

Stonewalling consists of:

1. Refusal to negotiate a conflict in good faith
2. Refusal to discuss honestly one’s motivations
3. Refusal to listen to another point of view with openness
4. Refusal to compromise
5. Refusal to collaborate
6. Refusal to support the other person’s plans
7. Refusal to accept influence

Stonewalling is a widely-used strategy in most unsatisfying relationships. Stonewalling alone without any other more coercive tactics probably does not limit the partner so much that a relationship can be termed abusive. That is because someone on the receiving side of stone-walling still has options to end the relationship, or get needs met elsewhere. In a business relationship, stonewalling makes no sense because the other party would just take their business elsewhere.

A clear and definitie “no” may be part of non-cooperation but it is not stonewalling. Part of the deliberate intention of stonewalling is to keep the survivor ‘on the hook’ and not really able to pursue alternatives because the issue is still ‘open’ in some technical sense.

However, in an abusive relationship, isolation and threats are usually present, and the survivor has no safe options to pursue needs except through the primary aggressor. Most ’nagging’ is usually a survivors attempt to overcome stonewalling. In an abusive relationship, stonewalling may become a fundamental tactic, because it is a way to apply pressure that seemingly can’t be confronted, because it is exactly “not doing anything.”

Stonewalling benefits from male privilege, because an uncooperative man will usually still get taken care of by a female partner anyway. A female partner that stops housework or other care for the primary aggressor in response to stonewalling may incorrectly be viewed as “starting something.”

Sometimes, survivors will avoid discussing a primary aggressor’s demand because they are attempting to put together an indirect “no” where a direct “no” is not safe. This is not stonewalling, especially if there is cooperation (or submission) overall. Stonewalling is a complete pattern of non-communication and non-cooperation that only works from a position of power.

Here is the link: http://www.abuseandrelationships.org/Content/Behaviors/stonewalling.html

I have also found stonewalling a tactic that people at work will use rather than cooperate. Not necessarily psychopaths but definitely uncooperative.

persephone, I’m glad you are still here and lurking and also posting. Yes, I remember you, and each of us must make the split in our own time and when we are ready.

I’m glad that Steve’s article gave you some information that you needed to help and guide you toward that split.

Until we finally make the split and DO IT…get out of denial, which causes us to endure, get out of the malignant hope, which causes us to keep on putting up with the stone walling.,…we can’t DO it. We can’t ACT.

I’m glad you mailed his stuff back to him.

Yes, the sores, fever blisters, do come when you are stressed. That virus lies there dormant until stress craps out your immune system and then it attacks.

Keep on with your healing, being good to yourself, and it’s okay to cut the phone off….or change the number. (((hugs)))))

Oxy, thanks for responding – I’m so glad you care enough to still share your thoughts with everyone…I always feel I have this invisible friend I can go to in you. In a way, I’m not happy I am still here yet it has been my lifeline. I’ve done therapy as well with therapist who I don’t think really ‘gets’ these relationships in the way we all do, however he is and has been patient with me, knows me well and essentially told me that ‘this guy is an albatross around your neck’ – and that at the very least, he is disordered and I can never expect a healthy relationship.

So it is a matter of putting away my own insincerity with him in continuing to fight and then be the one to act as if I can still accept, forgive and keep going on with being treated disrespectfully – I’m too smart for that, we all are here! And now age has shown me that my own family’s dysfunction has had huge repercussions in instilling me with some kind of self-disrespect or self-hate. And now i ‘get it’…finally…I’m not perfect but I’m me, unique and still able to give back to others and have a happy life if I get out of my own way and other’s bad energy.

Thanks again, Oxy – I’ll keep reading and am now ACTING more in all areas of my life – sometimes when you do find yourself in a corner, at least you find out you still have options and you can gain confidence from knowing you CAN be your own best friend and advocate by taking action. It did feel good to mail that box…!

All the perpetrator asks is that bystanders do nothing-

Interesting quote from the abuse site.

I’m ruminating on this. Doing something means what?

At some point in the game, there is only one thing to do: GET OUT and that is something only the abused can do.

Until then, people can talk, be there, listen, empathsize and then they have to go about their lives.

At some point we in the escapee position have to realize that the rest of the world can’t stop and that the pace of it can’t slow down for our distress.

Its like pulling onto a freeway, You have to go as fast as everybody else for everyone on the road to be safe.

Healing and getting free takes a lot of energy, courage, counsel, time, money, information and will.

It isn’t easy.

But its always worth it.

Keep your expectations low for others and reasonable for yourself and keep your focus on the goal.

Its the only way.

There is no easy solution.

It took me years. And if I had it to do over again, it would have taken a lot less time.

But, we are too soon old and too late shmart, eh?

Keep going. It will get better.

silvermoon:

Absolutely! Keep your expectations low for others…yep! I have decided that if I do that, I will be much better off. That has always been a problem of mine…I expect as much from other people as I give to them and no way is that how the world works. Good words to remember!

Oxy:

Thanks so much for the Stonewalling definitions. I got the most from the part about keeping the victim “on the hook” and keeping the “options open.” That’s what mine did and even admitted it when I asked him!!

Silvermoon, Amen.

That’s the other thing…I know the world does not revolve around or should have to tolerate my own insanity or weakness in not standing up for myself and walking away. For some time now I have not seen him, only spoken on phone and stayed grey rock till I saw what his actions were, gave myself a deadline. But I haven’t spoken about ‘the relationship’ with friends anymore or with family but they’ve known he was still in the picture, like my ongoing little secret that is actually the ELEPHANT in the room. My therapist said that none of my good efforts in other areas of my life would bear fruit if I stay in this relationship.
‘My man’ said to me once, ‘you talk a good game’ and I know I’ve thought that was a major projection on his part – especially in this last deal-breaking situation with him promising money, day after day. But I also know I have been guilty of not following through at times, usually in my own self interest and I’m doing my best now to be the person who just shuts up and gets things done.

Oxy,
thanks for those definitions. It makes a lot of sense and it opened my eyes.

Oxy, when I read the seven examples of stonewalling, I identified with them!!! I am a stonewaller and proud of it!!! When I have finally had enough of the game with a spath or a narc and I choose NC I stonewall. And while I was reading them, it occured to me that everyone has the absolute right to stonewall. I don’t have to listen to anybody! I don’t have to support anybodys plans, and I don’t have to divulge my motives. The thing is, that stonewalling is frustrating to the stonewallee, but is empowering to the stonewaller. Spaths use it to hold on to the power imbalance in relationships with them always on top. We keep trying to communicate so we can resolve the issue. Ah no. We have a right to stonewall…in fact, knowing we have the right is the first hurdle.
A great big stone wall is an excellent defence. I picture it like this: Agreat big barricade made up of a whole bunch of gray rocks. 🙂
I’m off to work.

Dear Dr. Steve,
Love your article and this topic. IMO, Stonewalling is the #1 tactic used by SPs and toxic people. We speak, but the SPs are deaf to our words and in response, they give us crazy-making word salads. It’s no wonder we feel confused and crazy.

Hi persephone7,
I know what you mean about feeling shame for being at a certain stage and not being as far progressed as we had hoped. But, persephone, we do what we can do with what we have at the time. Please celebrate whatever progress you have made and continue to make. Sounds like you are taking better care of yourself and children, so good for you! Thing is that (imo) we got to learn NOT to dump on ourselves: the SPs do that for us & to us. imo, what we got to learn is to love ourselves and celebrate whatever progress we make, even if it feels like snails pace, one step forward and 5 steps back.

20yrs:
OMG! This is a Classic case of Stonewalling: The SP shuts everyone up via deafness & inaction and has silenced EVERYONE on a topic he dislikes. Everyone dances, like marionettes, to the SP’s tune:
“I mean, *I* am not allowed to raise these topics with him. Only the children may. But they won’t, because they are so sick of dealing with him.”

Oxy,
Great list and good point about the Stonewaller must be a position of power. The SP keeps us “on the hook” because he thinks we are a schnook. But, eventually, we see the light and de-hook, de-schnook ourselves and we won’t allow ourselves to be ‘conned’ anymore.

silvermoon,
love this, you really sum up how to get free and move on:
“Healing and getting free takes a lot of energy, courage, counsel, time, money, information and will…..It isn’t easy….But its always worth it….Keep your expectations low for others and reasonable for yourself and keep your focus on the goal…..Its the only way…..There is no easy solution….Keep going. It will get better.” Amen.

Kim said:
“I don’t have to listen to anybody! I don’t have to support anybodys plans, and I don’t have to divulge my motives…A great big stone wall is an excellent defence. I picture it like this: A great big barricade made up of a whole bunch of gray rocks.”
Amen, Kim. Your description makes me think of Boundaries. Sometimes, we need an impenetrable barricade of gray boulders to keep us safe from SPs.

Thank you Steve…….I cant find the right words to write now, but memories again are storming in along with remembering the pain I felt from the stonewalling…It makes me so sad…
I guess their are people who have a core of love and people who have a core of evil…Even if we dont want them to have it or try to believe that they dont have it, second guessing what is obvious and in front of our faces.
Understanding the P and the validation we receive from LF helps to bring back sanity.

I used to carry my phone around the house with me to make sure I didn’t miss his calls. Then more and more I’d come to dread them and knew we’d never have a real conversation – our real conversations (at least to me) always seemed to ultimately bring us to some kind of conflict if I expressed an opinion, usually the opposite of his – for which I was classified as ‘always standing up for women’ or something similar. Or his favorite, well, that’s f**ked up, but that’s you!’
I am going to miss him when he could be nice, cook for us and when I thought the sex was wonderful. But now even the thought of that doesn’t appeal to me as I can’t believe anything he says and I don’t think I can ever figure out why he stonewalls, but he DOES, and he does because up till now it’s worked.

Thanks from me, too Oxy for researching and posting that list, it definitely fit and let me know there’s been a reason to feel crazy.

And Hi Clair…I’ll be doing my best to be hard on myself only where needed – I’m spending day with family today and feels so nice to be with my kids – they don’t know about any of this and I want to keep it that way, time will heal all. I’ve started to read some more of Kathleen Hawk’s articles about the different stages like anger, letting go, etc. and they’re just right – right now.

Thanks again, Steve for putting it all together.

Stonewalling is part of our “Backspath’…….as Oxy said.
It’s all part of the concept of their projections. They know it works, they know it hurts, they know they can get a reaction, they know they wouldn’t like it done to them…………SO….do it right back at em!!!!
For a survivor…..Stonewalling = NC!

Perse~
Hi girl!!!
Glad your working towards your final exit! One thing I must say…….If your’ waiting for money….don’t. It won’t come. It’s his hold on you.
If you’d like to empower yourself…..sue him. get a judgement then go after him.
I’d highly recommend not playing nicey nice as your tactic for him to ‘feel bad’ for you and pay up…..he’ll just exploit that and throw you into the game further.

In Poker, one must know when to hold em and know when to fold em……not keep calling and raising. You go broke that way.

I understand you need the money…….but without this crap holding you down…..you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can bounce back up. In the time your waisting and health your compromising trying to get money out of him, by playing HIS game……you could be focused on YOU and start playing YOUR LIFE by YOUR RULES!!!

Good for you for sending his stuff back……now change your number, file a lawsuit and take it legal as you move on.

YOU CAN DO IT!

XXOO
EB

His unthoughtful, lazy, dismissive, or flat-out non-response to my feelings and concerns reflected his pure contempt for which they took no responsibility. Yes! A silent SAM! His absence of empathy, the relish in messing with my head, in watching me twist and squirm, my humiliating efforts and bids to be heard—there is something sadistic about this. I never hung on, always let go, never begged to have him back, on the contrary it was him who initiated things. Why last he asked to talk, said he was listening, I hardly spoke, it was him who needed to be honest and own, explain. Nothing, so I wrote again and knew, no contact , absolutely no contact. so i was mean in hopes he would leave me alone. I would never believe his words or actions again, all I got when I saw him was disgusting flirting all around, no empathy at all. I was nothing to fight for, not even visible yet he was there for everyone else. I knew, as other women let me know, he was there for them. Don’t know why he wanted someone back he never wanted, or why he would sleep with people I knew, flirt with people I know, dont know how they all think after the fact when its all over and there relationships were exposed, that I still have no right to be upset at their games. They still look me in the eye, smile, and pretend that they are good people, and I am in the wrong to dare be hurt when I see them together. I’m not hurt any more, just disgusted. And grateful, I am nothing like them, and they will never be anything like me, no matter how much they scheme to look better. No matter how much they try to break me, I will never smile or trust them again.

Hi Erin:

You’re here, how great…Don’t worry, I’d already seen the writing on the wall about the money – it is so strange that he brought it up a couple of months ago that he would give me $400 or more when he got his income tax money back – in my gut I knew it would never happen but like Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football I still slightly bought into it, still thinking I’d paid my dues and been the good girlfriend long enough that he just might mean it and follow through this time. But I knew I was in trouble when he started making excuses and changed the amount several times – went from ‘how much do you need?’ to I’ll be able to give you $300, then $200 and then nothing. It’s just been hard to wrap my head around – essentially he’s homeless, stays with a friend and friend’s mother in another city, doesn’t have a car. Have not been with him consistently over the years but have always had ‘the bond’ with him, we both love sports and he was usually fun to be with. But my energy and money has always been at risk with him…I’d drawn many boundaries just in last year and he’d seemed to respect them more and more, even gave me small amount of money occasionally… now he knows I can’t afford to help him anymore. But the fact that he’ll diss my family (only to me) about not helping me more and then say he’s going to ‘do the right thing’ by me and then nothing…maybe there is either a screw loose or it is just some sadistic thing he has, maybe going back to women who let him down in past, who knows and now who cares…sometimes I’d think maybe he thinks it’s ok to offer the money over and over, or say it’s coming – like it’s ‘the thought that counts”, that he really intended to follow through, but isn’t that crazy?

So for me to sue him would just be a further waste of my time and emotions – he doesn’t have any money. I’ve helped him with my computer and time to look for jobs, fill out applications, etc….No more on that, how can he stonewall me on something for weeks and then continue to think I’ll be in his corner – the sense of entitlement is amazing. When I did get so angry at him one day on phone, i just ripped him for being so ridiculous and at the very least for not understanding how true friends treat one another. I got no real response on that one and later thought – I’ve come so far, in a way it felt good to just flat out say it to him but I know it’s so useless, just more racking of my body and senses that can’t be good.

Good to hear your voice, Erin, hope all is well in your life. I’m ok, I know I may slip back and be sad soon as I know my addiction is still in me so I have to be so careful, so careful. My kids and grandson just left, we had one of the nicest birthday dinners in a long time. I even made a spur of the moment almond torte with cherry filling with whipped cream icing and shaved chocolate that turned out so beautiful and delicious – my son who loves to cook had two pieces!

Please hold me in your thoughts – going for a 2nd mammogram tomorrow as they want to check an area again – I’m nervous and hoping God doesn’t have a new test for me, I’m so ready to be well and move on and want my body to reflect it though I know it’s been there for all this stuff…I’m staying positive and calm no matter what. At times I wanted to just die so I could escape him and all my responsibilities but I feel enthusiastic and ready to live again, I hope God’s with me on that, I’ve not meant to be ungrateful in any way for the blessings I’ve always had and have.

I want to say hi to Hens, too – hope you can just dismiss that guy in your life and not let him get to you in any way, you’ve been so strong so far (and you’re so funny, too!) Sending good thoughts and love to you.

Sorry for when I do post, I’m so wordy..I let it store up for too long and then whammm…but it feels good to release it.

April – Don’t you feel sometimes you’re caught up in a bad movie? I think its like starting to watch a bad movie, you get caught up in the drama but then realize what a rotten script it is and how lousy the actors are in it and why not just leave the theatre. And now that I’m older, the drama has a bad high school feel to it, too – like it’s so immature and mindless.

The bottom line for me is about feeling safe and especially about feeling good in my gut about someone and their treatment of me. And that I can trust them and their actions continue to be consistent with who I believe them to be.

good list Oxy, thanks! xoxoxo

I needed this subject today. TY, well my ex for 25 years, unprovoked did this to me with no provocation. Even ordering in resterraunts,sp. and guess whom everyone turned on me. I, after 24 years just thought I was losing my mind. He stole a large some of money, and the car I bought, we were not married. And their is so much going on the chaos, my best friend passing,and other family problems. I did not want to put him in a DC jail; I have paid royally for that gesture of compassion.

Spath’s see us as a “projects”, not people. They are not capable of any positive feeling’s toward humans. So, to make themselves feel better, they require attention. Any attention will do, manipulation, head games, breaking you down, it’s just a fun game for them. They want to squash us like a bug. Head games work well, cause they leave no physical evidence & are hard to prove. They use our own compassions against us. They think we’re pathetic for having emotions.
In my opinion they were seriously emotionally abused themseleves, & it’s their way of getting revenge on the world. They prey on th emotionally vulnerable, really caring kind people, who trust. The best target. Then they feel a sense of accomplishment when they make us grovel, & break us down. I’m in the process of getting out, I finally realize it’s the only way to survive.

Let me also add, since I’ve been removing myself emotionally(after 25 yrs) from my Spath husband, I’m not only surviving, I’m thriving. I didn’t realize the great life that awaits me. I look better, feel better, & have a smile on my face almost always. Life is fun again & satisfying. I’m an awesome Graphic Designer, although I was always told I was useless. I now have an income that he doesn’t want to hear about. He doesn’t want to see my work & worst of all will nit listen to anyone giving me a compliment. It must be sad to be him, but I won’t waste anymore time pitying him. He’s had the privelege of too much of my time & care. It’s all fear for him, time for me to move toward the light!

Kathy – When you say “I have paid royally for that gesture of compassion’ I identified so much. Hang on to your own sense of being a good, compassionate person and don’t second-guess yourself, that’s the thing to learn and sounds like you’re there just by recognizing his unfair treatment of you. And sometimes while you’re trying to deal – up comes all the other stuff in your life, I’ve had that too big-time with family, work and other issues so pray for your own inner peace in the midst of it and take good care of yourself, #1 priority.

deservesbetter, you really summed up in a couple of paragraphs their m.o. – and I agree that they must have been seriously abused/neglected by those who were supposed to take care of and love them at early ages with some exceptions. I’m an artist/illustrator of many years, too and haven’t given it the priority for some time and am getting back to it. And though he’d say he thought I was great, he sometimes wouldn’t even respond when I’d tell him of a new opportunity or job I’d finished, money I’d made from art, etc. – I got so I didn’t want to mention it because I knew the response so I’d keep my good feelings about it to myself.

Glad you’re thriving and smiling again.

Deserves better,

It is time for you to move toward the light.

The thing is that we must realize is that NOW IS OUR TIME! Don’t wait any more. Move forward and do what you need to do to take care of YOURSELF.

I always called this the cold shoulder! When she did something wrong. I would get the cold shoulder until I apologize for approaching her about said mistake. I was being conditioned to deal with her issues. She always blame me for the communication break down, saying you don’t understand me! Oh no I understand you Now! Lol
She used to sleep on the couch for days especially when company was over to make me appear like the mean nagging husband!
Oh boy I am so glad I am in recovery bc thing like this open my eye even more bc I always thought maybe I was a little to hard on her, she cant help it, she needs help, all the while excusing her poor behavior!

Makes me thinnk off Pavlow’s dog!

Im glad you wrote about stonewalling. I’ve heard the term only in political articles, never in relational terms. I always thought someone who stonewalled was just a terrible communicator. If you think about it, if you can’t communicate well, the relationship is sunk. I was dating a man and engaged to him, and he ‘stonewalled’. I tried to get him to listen and that’s what keeps folks strung along in the relationship…that wee hope…they will get it. The got it…they just don’t want to deal with it.
So I broke up with that guy and he went on to destroy some other lucky lady’s life.
Thanks again, for this article Steve. It encourages us all to think about the things that make a relationship functional. No matter how much you may LOVE someone and hope for change, sometimes you just have to let go and move on without them. Sometimes you just have to find what YOU need in a relationship. Usually, they end up taking care of just themselves as they have been.

I think of stonewalling that you speak of in your (wonderful) article as “the silent treatment” that I have complained about with my sociopathic family all of my life. It seems to me they get some sort of power or ego when they can deliberately ignore you and not say why or what is wrong. It has always felt like a punishment to me and I’m over my masochistic thinking and now think of the “punisher” as the one with the problem. I have to, to survive.

I have decided that if someone cannot communicate like a freaking human being then I can no longer give another thought to what the problem could be. I’m tired of guessing (and guessing always that I must have done something really bad).

The silent treatment, or stonewalling, is no longer going to be added to my already full bag of bricks…they own it…after I try to make my communication and I get nothing back I’ve learned to walk away and not take personally what others need to pick up.

No more guessing – except there is something wrong with THEM.

Cheers all, Cherylann

I have been a faithful Lovefraud blog reader for 2 years now and I feel compelled to express some thoughts. I have not blogged before, but this article has “inspired” me if you will.

First I would like to express my deep thankfulness that this blog exists. This community of support is amazing and even though I have not participated in any of the blogs, they have helped me through some very difficult times and have also helped me reach an understanding of the man I was involved with.

I was involved with a sociopath for 2.5 years. I have suspected he was a sociopath for 2 of those years. I found this site and I read every article there was and read the blogs and even though the man I was involved with showed very obvious signs of being a sociopath, there was still a part of me that would doubt it or justify his behavior. After all, we were soul mates, so why would he intentionally hurt me?

This article described so many of the things that I was feeling. He literally made me feel like I was crazy, because of how he would not listen or not respond to me when I would confront him on a particular subject. I didn’t know what that was called, but Steve described it so well! It was the stonewalling that finally made me leave the man I was seeing. I found out about an affair he was having, another women who claimed to be his “soul-mate”. When I confronted him, he denied, denied, denied and then admitted he was seeing her, but made me feel crazy when I asked questions.

When I look back over the past 2.5 years, I know there have been other women, but he stonewalled me into thinking I was nuts for thinking so. I finally left the sociopath a week ago, it took me that long to be ready and to finally realize that I am worth it! So thank you lovefraud community for everything. You are all amazing people and are all worth it!

Hi Holly;

Good on you to leave! The secret is, when they are calling YOU crazy and it doesn’t make sense…it isn’t true and most likely they are projecting their own CRAZINESS onto you. Glad to see you write. It’s good for the soul. xxoo

Holly, glad you finally posted! I often wonder if there are people lurking out there in la-la land who don’t post but get something from the posts the rest of us do.

Glad you got the knowledge and the power to leave that jerk! Knowledge really IS POWER!

TOWANDA FOR YOU!!!! Whatever you do, you know the drill…block his e mails, block his texts and do NOT GO BACK. NO CONTACT!!!! It is teh only way, girlfriend! You know that drill so i know I am preaching to the [email protected] But you know me already and you know I have my cyber skillet handy! LOL (((hugs))) and welcome from lurker-land!

Divorced from Gaslighter

Persephone: From what I can tell, your significant other owes you, or promised you several hundred dollars. You are NEVER going to get this money, so just move on. Whatever he has cheated out of you, or outright stolen from you over the course of the relationship is simply GONE. How many hours have you spent arguing with him about this money? Your time is worth more than a nickel an hour. He is laughing his ass off about you begging him for $200 or whatever. You could babysit somebody’s kids for a few days and get that much. Change your phone number, and do not give the new number out to anybody who is in contact with your ex.

GENERAL ADVICE to people going through a divorce or custody fight: Do NOT give out enough information on this website or any other so that somebody could have an “Aha!” moment and realize who you are. Even if your ex doesn’t look at this site, his sister or neighbor or co-worker might. It really is a small world. Change a few details (sex and age of children) and don’t give out too many identifying details. Also, one or more of your children might look at this website someday, etc. If you don’t have kids under 18, this probably isn’t a big deal, but the younger your children are, the more years you have ahead of you dealing with the crazy-making ex-spouse, so don’t make things harder on yourself than they are already.

Divorced from G:

Thanks for your concern but I never have asked him for money – I’ve even told him not to think about it as he’s had his own money problems. HE OFFERED and has done this before and gets mad if I protest about the way he goes about NOT following through – it’s the two weeks of almost daily calling saying he’ll be getting it off soon, will be giving me tracking number and then intermixed with regular conversation calls or just checking in calls and if I bring up the money situation he’s ignoring to mention or explain, he gets testy like I’m money-grubbing. As I said earlier, at this point it’s not about the money, though if he had followed through would have really helped me and would be nice if you could have a DAY you knew it was arriving by – it’s about the SAYING you’re going to do it, then nothing. So I’ve never begged for money, not my style anyway – if someone wants to help me, I no longer turn it down but I don’t beg for sure. And on all levels, I’ve come to value and expect others to value my time more – I work and I try to be productive/money-making when I’m not at work, too.

You’re right about being careful about giving out too many details, I was wrong to get too specific – i know your advice was general but I was definitely guilty of that and it’s actually one reason I don’t post more often. I let my frustration get away with me and wanted others here to try to make sense of it which is crazy itself! For some reason, I really don’t think this person is laughing at me, perhaps that’s denial but whatever the case I just know I don’t want to be on the receiving end of it any more.

Persephone,

Why do you even talk to this person who keeps promising to pay you and then doesn’t follow through? What is the point? Why not just go no contact and be done with it?

Ox Drover:

Concur with the no contact. However, if Persephone has her S-ex’s social security number, I’d send him a collection letter. Get him to own up to the loan. Then file a 1099-C on him — you get the tax deduction, the loan is declared as income to him and HE has to pay taxes on it. If you don’t have his social security number, write him a letter offering to forgive the loan, but tell him that in order for you to do that you need his social security number so you can take the loss — trust me, these creatures are so short-sighted that he’ll think he’s getting off and will cheerfully hand out his social security number. And then you file the 1099-C and be done with it.

Oxy,

You know what? I got myself into such a bind with my house, work,finances and a family medical situation that was very sad (trying to avoid specifics now) that this person, though he’s driven me crazy at times, also was a source of comfort and I have felt needed by him. But I know it’s been unhealthy and I know the specifics here sound like there’s no explanation for my continuing to talk to him. That’s why I sent the package back…I had a number of days of NC but there was still situation unresolved that I felt I had to speak with him one more time, then my own medical situation just came up and he has seemed to be truly concerned and I haven’t wanted to jump the gun and tell anyone else about it (started to here…) so I did feel like I should follow up and let him know results.

I’ve only cut off one other person in my life and that was my second husband, who died a number of years ago – he was an alcoholic and I went to Al-Anon which helped me and the trauma of that relationship just got too bad to take. So yes, I’m not proud, happy or feel great about having gotten into another tough relationship with someone damaged – shows I’m damaged – I’ve been just trying to be a good person, trying to do the right thing by him in not shutting him totally off but I do know it is something I have to face, thought I HAD when I shipped off that package. I’ve just been trying to survive and stay afloat with my job, home, etc. like alot of people except I’ve been right on the edge.
So I plan to have another conversation as soon as I know more about results and possible biopsy after 2nd mammogram – I would rather go NC in a huge way but somehow I feel like I’d have no closure if I do it before I can tell him where I stand medically and then be honest and say(as I did in card in that box he said is lost…) that I can’t function and be his friend/lover/whatever anymore and I don’t want to talk to him anymore. He’ll be angry and I guess I just have to let that go too. Whoever said about it getting too painful to stay was right but it just seems like I wish I could talk to a priest (a good one, or Jesus!) and say – is it ok for me to do this to this person – he hasn’t been totally terrible to me, I still think he has merit as a person…as I write this, I realize how wimpy and lame it sounds. Let go and let God.

How do you explain something that feels so profound inside you, that you don’t feel right cutting someone you still have love for – totally OFF – Sky said something about it, spiritually. I know it is the best thing for me – I can’t even seem to concentrate when he’s not calling, I feel like he’s about to call and I have to be ‘on’ for the call…thanks, Oxy and I see Matt’s comment, too.

I have his social sec. # but as I said this was money he said he wanted to give me, kept saying he would give me, and even now says he wants to send me something. So to save my own sanity I do have to have the conversation ONE MORE TIME and just do it. I’ve already written off any lost money, etc. in the past as GONE.

Thank you, too Matt – I appreciate your help with that information.

Persephone7

I am so in your corner about the difficulty of NO CONTACT. I could not do so with my family until my parents died. I kept trying and trying to get the love I so much needed. It is a pattern of mine. I never give up on people who need to be given up on.

It is happening in another case as well…worse! He molested my granddaughter!!!! But I was so dependent on him by the time I found out (and had him charged…he goes to jail on May 8th of this year because he plead guilty (so freaking sick he left his crime on cd’s which I found). I had to run from his home and did not talk to him for four months…

I am alone. I am isolated. I have no family anymore since my son died and I am financially ready for the streets. He comes along again and offers to support me telling me he owes it to me for what he did to my granddaughter and how horrible he feels for putting me in this situation (I was living with him at the time as a friend, although we dated for 2 years prior to 3 years of friends). Blah blah blah. The man makes me puke.

I feel sick, drained, and so full of self-hatred because I feel my allowing his phone calls and financial help is betraying my granddaughter.

Yes, I understand my mother now too and how she continued to remain with my stepfather who molested me. Although she said she just plain didn’t believe me and she sure as hell didn’t run to the police to protect me.

NO CONTACT is HARD…some people find it easy, like I found it easy with my dad’s ex girlfriend…but some people, whom you have had a very long and intimate relationship with…wow…it almost brings you to the ledge.

I told him I cannot wait until he is in jail (he will likely get 18 months) so that I can go on with my life and find other ways to survive. I AM DEPENDENT ON HIM. My home is too expensive but I must keep it so my granddaughter can visit and I can keep my dogs. My book doesn’t pay the bills and at 52 no one is hiring me although I have excellent skills. I finally decided to do books but I am so drained from this CONTACT that I still cannot find the energy to go out. Hell, I usually don’t even get dressed.

Counselling? Yes, I need it…but no money and no insurance.

Yea, I know, I know I know I know better. But it’s freaking HARD! I hate HIM!!! And yet I let him in my life so that I can take his damn money.

Whose the sick one now? me.

Oh, P.S. I would NEVER allow my granddaughter around this creep again if anyone wonders. I do protect her. I just don’t know how to gain the strength to protect myself. I’ve been conditioned by my own parents to feel unworthy and those tapes just won’t stop playing.

Sorry…your story made sense to me and I had to rant…I hope you can get rid of your S as soon as possible. But I know it’s hard.

There, I said it. I’m waiting for the backlash.

Send this to a friend